Just a Little Blip on the South Florida Weird-o-Meter

Our law school courtyard is usually a quiet place, but every so often a flock of very very very loud parrots, descendants of escapees from Parrot Jungle, a nearby mini-wildlife park, take over the trees and make so much noise you can hardly think.

So I sympathize with the residents of Dania Beach, a couple of hours drive north of here. It seems they have a monkey problem. Welcome to South Florida – and beware of the Monkeys.

Of course, as the Miami Herald accurately observes, “Monkeys apparently don’t cause much of a blip on the South Florida weird-o-meter.”

You know you are not in New York or Chicago when the airport rent-a-car place has signs reminding customers not to feed the monkeys, which have been spied tossing mango pits at people and using trash-can tops as cymbals.

In fact, Hertz is just the latest location in Dania Beach to be beset by a plague of vervets, aka green monkeys, which have been making the small city their own private urban jungle for decades. The monkeys with flattened black faces and white furry beards swing through the trees and sometimes skitter across nearby mobile-home roofs, making a sound akin to a thunderstorm.

They have been known to climb into newly washed cars in the neighborhood and make a mess of their interior. They love to jump on the roofs, trampoline style.

''It's a dominance thing,'' said Ron Magill, a spokesman for Metrozoo, who said the males are especially keen on activities that make a lot of noise.

Debbie White, a grandmother of seven from Amelia Island, ran into about 20 of them while waiting for a Camry on a recent afternoon. On that day, they were quiet but playful.

''It was like being at the zoo,'' she said.

Monkeys apparently don't cause much of a blip on the South Florida weird-o-meter. An employee named Wes, standing near ''monkey row'' near the Hertz car wash machinery, shrugged off the phenomenon, as did several colleagues, who no longer find the monkeys interesting or unusual.

The vervets have deep roots in the Dania Beach area — deeper, in fact, than the Hertz outlet at 2150 NE Seventh Ave. They apparently date back to a roadside primate attraction that closed shop in the early 1950s.

The owner was able to sell off most of the larger primates, but the vervets and a handful of squirrel monkeys didn't find any takers.

According to the locals who have been coexisting with the monkeys for decades, someone at the farm simply opened the cage and set the captives free.

The escapees fled to the forest, where they developed a diet of grasshoppers, beetles, small crabs, and, on occasion, the food in Fido's dog bowl.

So far as I am aware, none of the monkeys have yet sought to enroll here, but with enough monkeys and enough typewriters, surely it's only a matter of time….

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One Response to Just a Little Blip on the South Florida Weird-o-Meter

  1. Dania’s only a couple of hours north of Coral Gables if your car runs out of gas a few miles short of Aventura and has to be pushed the rest of the way.

    Man, I do love those flocks of parrots, though. They’re all over Broward, too. The noise they make is unreal. And woe unto anyone who parks under the trees in a certain Publix parking lot in Ft. Lauderdale on the wrong day. The sound of bird shit hitting the cars sounds like rain.

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